22nd November 2020:
The best bit of trivia I have come across started the week when found out about the very odd origins of the James Bond theme. We went ambient with George Winston, spent quality time with my favourite husband and wife team, the Tedeschi Trucks Band. said hello to some local talent and paid homage to John Renbourne. With a finishing touch of some pretty funky cover versions, it was quite a fortnight
1st – 14th April 2020 – Featured Musicians:
Monty Norman – George Winston – Tedeschi Trucks Band – YES – Youssou D’Dour – Greg & Duanne Allman – Jon Mark & Jon Almond – Brother’s Moving – The National – John Renbourn – Bert Jansch & Jon Renbourne – Pentangle – Keith Jarret – Ahmad Jamal – Grassy Spark – Sean Koch – Jeremy Loops
1 March: Some information is just too good not to share. I was watching one of my favourite British TV series, QI, last night and this amazing fact about the very odd origins of the James Bond soundtrack were revealed. At first I thought this was all a bit of fictitious fun, but on further research found it to be 100% fact.
The song was originally titled Bad Sign, Good Sign and written by Monty Norman for a musical adaptation of author VS Naipul’s “A House for Mr Biswas, which was supposed to be the follow-up to the ‘50s hit musical Irma La Douce. The project was dropped but Monty Norman kept one of the songs that he particularly liked on the back burner.
When Monty Norman was commissioned to write the theme song for Dr No in the early ‘60s he reworked the back-burning song. Norman kept the melody but split the musical notes for a more staccato feel. “The moment I did Dum diddy dum dum dum, I thought my God that’s it,” Norman said. “The producers liked this new take on the tune. And so did Sean Connery. He seemed to like it very much, I mean, when you see the film and the camera pans up to Sean’s face and he says “Bond, James Bond” from that moment onwards, Sean Connery became a star,” Norman said. “The James Bond theme was imprinted on people’s minds and the whole James Bond franchise was suddenly up and running.”
And was the original song about a suave super-spy? Not at all. It was originally about a man from Trinidad who had an unfortunate sneezing problem! I kid you not. Good news is that I managed to find the original for your Sunday pleasure. Enjoy! Never say you don’t learn anything from being a member of this page! 😎
2 March: Hi music lovers. This evening’s selection is for piano fans. Back in the far distant ‘80s I was introduced to the music of the mega-talented pianist George Winston by good friend Anthony Shelley. His early albums like December, Autumn and Winter into Spring were often categorised as ‘new age’, but I think any relaxing instrumental music of that era was lumped into that fuzzy genre (much to the annoyance of many Jazz musicians of the time, I should imagine).
I was extremely happy to come across George Winston’s 15th solo piano album, Restless Wind (2019) recently. The eleven tracks include interpretations of songs by the likes of Sam Cooke, The Doors and Stephen Stills (among others). I explored the album this afternoon and am mightily impressed. Take a listen to his George Winston’s take on the Sam Cooke classic, A Change is Gonna Come.😎
The second track from George Winston’s 2019 album, Restless Wind, is his interpretation of The Doors dark classic, The Unknown Soldier. Seeing The Doors perform live was the impetus for George Winston to take up the organ as an instrument. He soon shifted his focus to the piano, and the rest is history. This isn’t his first tribute to the music of The Doors. In 2002 he released the album Night Becomes Day, a 13-track interpretation of their music.
If he hadn’t have gone to that live performance we may have been deprived of the 18 albums he has released over the years – and that would have been a huge shame! Here’s The Unknown Soldier. Enjoy
My closing track from George Winston isn’t from his new album, but a recording of his version of Pachelbel’s Canon. It is a piece of music that I loved long before I ever knew its name and has remained one of my favourite ‘unwind’ pieces. Whenever feeling frayed around the edges I can put on headphones, close my eyes, and zone out to this. I always emerge on the other side feeling much better! Wishing you all a wonderful Monday night and a fantastic musical week. 😎
4 March: Derek Trucks, in my opinion, is one of the top guitarists around at the moment. Most of you will be familiar with his remarkable but understated guitar style, but if you are a ‘Trucks newbie’, do yourself a favour and spend an hour or two on YouTube or Spotify getting to know him and The Tedeschi Trucks band.
I’ve chosen three tracks for today that helps showcase his talent. First up is a duo with the master of the Dobro and Resonator guitars, Jerry Douglas. This clip of them performing Little Martha was filmed during a live performance at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium last month and is well worth a listen.
The second track from my Derek Trucks selection for today features he and his wife, Susan Tedeschi’s, band named simply The Tedeschi Trucks Band. Here they perform the 1967 Box Tops hit, The Letter. The clip was filmed at the Gathering of the Vibes concert in 2015. I’ve always liked the song and this version has taken it to a new level. Enjoy! 😎
My closing track for tonight is a showstopper. Recorded at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2007, it features Derek Trucks, Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton playing the Blind Faith classic, Can’t Find My Way Home. This must have been a show to behold with all 28,000 concert tickets being sold out in just 22 minutes!
I love watching good guitarists in action and my hope is that The Tedeschi Trucks band decides to grace our shores sometime in the near future. I have it on good authority that it’s an experience you won’t forget. Have a happy Wednesday folks.
7 March: It’s Saturday again and time to take a listen to some remarkable cover versions of songs that you all know, performed by musicians you all know, each giving their individual slant to the original. Thanks to the members of The Guilty Pleasure of the Cover Version for sharing these classics.
The first is a cover of a Simon and Garfunkel hit, America, performed in true Prog Rock style by the masters of the genre, YES. This is a live recording of them performing the track that was featured on the 1996 Keys to Ascension album. Hold on to your hats…
The second cover version I have lined up for today is from Youssou N’Dour, the Senegalese maestro who always manages to lend his magic touch to any song he chooses to perform. Here he is with a track he recorded for the Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur album, John Lennon’s Jealous Guy. 😎
The closing track for today’s selection of unusual (and seldom-heard) covers comes from the Allman brothers. No, not the group, just the sadly missed brother’s Duane and Gregg. The track is from the group Hour Glass, which was the name of the band the duo recorded under during 1967 and 1968, releasing two albums.
Neither of them was particularly impressed with the type of music the record company wanted them to play, and after the second album they disbanded Hour Glass to form The Allman Brothers Band – and the rest is magical musical history.
The band’s two albums, Hour Glass and Power of Love, have been re-released and available from the Allman Brothers Band official website. Here we join Gregg and Duane performing The Beatles huge hit, Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown). 😎
11th March: An old adage that I made up this morning is ‘all great songs deserve a great cover version’. This was sparked after hearing one of the closing tracks on Chris Prior’s latest Podcast last night. I hadn’t listened to Mark-Almond’s incredible medley of New York State of Mind /The City for quite a few months and doing so prompted a slow sexy shuffle while doing the morning household chores. There are worse ways of starting the day!
Jon Mark and Jon Almond had been playing in various combos and outfits through the ‘60s but played together for the first time with John Mayall on his albums The Turning Point and Empty Rooms in 1969. Their Jazz-influenced smooth pop style won them more critical acclaim than commercial success, but they still managed to build a solid global fan base releasing 12 albums during their 26-year collaboration. Jon Almond, unfortunately, succumbed to cancer in 2009, while Jon Mark has carried on a successful solo career based in New Zealand.
Now, back to the old adage… Mark-Almond’s smooth jazzy take on this Billy Joel classic will forever be one of my favourite covers of all time. Here’s New York State of Mind / The City. Enjoy. 😎
My friend Lesley Martin shared a post of a group of street buskers a few days ago that blew me away. Brother’s Moving is a Danish band that has been around since 2008 and for a while they were regarded as the most influential street bands of the past decade. They were pioneers in popularising the Cajon drum (now widely used) to replace a full drum kit.
Although primarily street performers they started gigging at parties and events around New York City, especially after a video clip taken by a bystander of them performing the Cab Calloway classic, Minnie the Moocher, went viral. By 2016 they headlined sell-out concerts in Moscow and St. Petersberg as well as making festival appearances. They have released a handful of EP’s, singles and two studio albums, Broher’s Moving (2012) and Autonomy (2018).
Although there are better clips of the band’s performances, I have decided to share the video that boosted their career to the next level. It shows the sense of fun, exuberance and energy that these guys have. Enjoy. 😎
As the last song for this Wednesday I have chosen a track from an album that is only set for digital release tomorrow with the album launch in June. Songs for Australia is a collection of songs contributed by various artists to help raise money for the numerous Australian organisations who are working toward rebuilding their country after the devastating fires.
One of these tracks is supplied by the hugely successful The National with a cover of INXS’ Never Tear Us Apart. Although I admire The National, I normally find their style pretty dark and gloomy. As Kitty Empire characterised the band for her piece in The Guardian “literate rock that presents at first as artily sombre and eventually as one of the most nuanced 21st-century iterations of what used to be known as “college rock”. Make of that what you will! Here’s The National lending their own edge to the INXS hit Never Tear Us Apart. Happy Wednesday music lovers. 😎
12 March: It’s Folk music Thursday. There was so many different musical styles and genres happening during the ‘60s and ‘70s that it was quite normal to have everything from Folk and Underground Rock through to Classics and Jazz in your album collection. One of the many ‘Folk’ guitarists who stood out for me was John Renbourne.
Having been a Folk music fan for since my early teens, his work as a solo artist, with Bert Jansch and with the group, Pentangle, has been a regular part of my life’s soundtrack ever since. Although no longer with us, John Renbourne’s music will carry on influencing musicians for many years to come.
I think the best track to start with for both fans and John Renbourne newbies is taken from one of his seminal solo albums, The Lady and the Unicorn. It was written by Renbourn and inspired by La Dame à la licorne, a series of six massive wall-length tapestries woven from wool and silk in Flanders around the year 1500. They feature a medieval lady in a garden, sometimes accompanied by her handmaid, but always with a unicorn and are thought to represent the six senses. Here’s the title track. Enjoy. 😎
The second John Renbourne choice for today is a duo with long-time friend Bert Jansch. Together they perfected what was often referred to as Folk Baroque. This track is from the album Acoustic Routes, a collection of music from the documentary of the same name. The documentary covers Bert Jansch’s remarkable career and well worth watching. Here are John and Bert with the beautiful First Light.
There were a number of Folk groups that rocked (and still manage to rock) my senses in the ’70s. Think Steeleye Span, Rennaisance, Magna Carta, Fairport Convention, and of course Pentangle. What better way to close a tribute to the music of John Renbourne than with a Pentangle track. John Renbourne formed the band along with Bert Jansch, Jacqui McShee (vocals), Danny Thompson (double bass) and Terry Cox (drums).
In January 2007, the five original members of Pentangle were presented with a Lifetime Achievement award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards by David Attenborough. Producer John Leonard said, “Pentangle were one of the most influential groups of the late 20th century and it would be wrong for the awards not to recognise what an impact they had on the music scene.” Pentangle played together for the event, for the first time in over 20 years. Bert Jansch passed away in 2011 followed by John Renbourne in 2016.
Pentangle’s impact on the music of the time is indisputable and they are often described as one of the progenitors of British Folk Rock. Closing tonight is a track from their biggest album, Basket of Light. Here’s ‘Once I Had a Sweetheart’. Happy Thursday! 😎
13 March: Thanks to The Music Aficionado for posting this rarity for the Keith Jarret fans out there; G.I. Gurdjieff: Sacred Hymns, by Keith Jarrett. Recorded this month 40 years ago in 1980, this was Jarrett’s interpretation of music composed by the spiritual leader G.I. Gurdjieff early in the 20th century.
George Ivanovich Gurdjieff used to wake up each morning whistling whatever music came into his head. Unable to transcribe it, he asked his disciple Thomas De Hartmann, himself a Russian composer, to write it down. Over a thousand pieces were composed this way. Some of them were recorded by De Hartmann, but were never made available to the public, and were rarely performed. Jarrett decided to record 15 of these pieces and perform them as written, without any embellishment: “In the so-called Gurdjieff world, personality is not a positive thing. So I used that recording as an exercise in not inflicting that music with my personality.”
A little Jazzy smoothness for your Friday afternoon. The remarkable Ahmad Jamal and the song he has made his own over the years, Poinciana.😎
14 March:I think Saturday is a good day for some local music for my lovely family and ex-pat friends living in far-flung climes. Cape Town has been the hotbed of many new, and not so new, acts that have been gracing the festival stages and started to establish themselves to a wider global audience. One of those is an outfit that has been around since about 2012, Grassy Spark.
Spots at the GreenPop’s Festival of Action in Zambia and Oppikoppi have guaranteed a huge following. The band are an adaptable bunch and constantly open to new sounds and influences. This creative input is evident when listening to their new EP’s. They regard themselves as a very big, happy, loving, crazy family and this live track of them performing Living in a Paradise (ft Jeremy Loops), shows exactly that.
I have featured my second choice of Cape Town artist before. Kommetjie born and bred Sean Koch. Since releasing the first EP in 2016 the band have undertaken a number of European tours and now have major representation in Germany. Here’s the title track from their 2019 album, Your Mind is a Picture, You can almost taste Cape Town in the sound. 😎
Track three on this Saturday is from yet another Cape Town Kommetjie boy, Jeremy Loops. This local mega-talent decided to travel after completing his studies and took a job on board a yacht, where, over two years developed a sound and a repertoire of songs waiting to be played.
Upon his return, he co-founded the urban greening social enterprise Greenpop, which, after reaching the milestone of planting 1000 trees, decided to have a celebration party at Cape Town’s Assembly venue. As co-founder and organizer, he decided to put himself on-stage as the event’s musical opener, which was, in fact, his first gig (info – allmusic.com)
Jeremy has become a tour de force both locally and abroad. After releasing his initial EP, Trading Change, in 2011 and embarking on the local festival circuit (becoming one of the top local drawcards along the way) he went on to tour the USA in 2015 as a support act followed by two headline shows of his own. Australia and Europe followed in 2016. His last album, Critical as Water, was released in 2018.
The closing track for today is Jeremy Loops performing his track Waves from the 2017 album of the same name. Amid all the problems we South African’s have, a lack of musical talent isn’t one of them. I hope all of you ex-pats have enjoyed today’s selection of homegrown sounds.😎
This article was first published on the Design Train website for Loving the Music
Words © Andrew Knapp
The author does not own the copyright of any of the videos used in the article